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Irregularities Alleged against BRS, YSRCP Governments

Irregularities Alleged against BRS, YSRCP Governments

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 18: After the ouster from power of the two ruling parties in the Assembly elections, irregularities committed during their rule have started coming out in the open against the Bharat Rashtra Samithi in Telangana and YSR Congress Party in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

While the incumbent Telangana government estimates that the state exchequer may have suffered a loss of up to ₹ 6,000 crores because of what they allege were irregularities in the power purchase agreements drawn up by the previous BRS government headed by K Chandrasekhar Rao, in Andhra Pradesh the Telegu Desam Party (TDP) alleged misappropriation of at least Rs 500 crores by the former chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in constructing a “private camp office” on the hilltop of Vishakhapatnam.

The BRS government was ousted from power in the Telangana assembly elections last year, while Mr Reddy was defeated in the assembly elections held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polling earlier this month. Both the parties were defeated by their opponents, Congress in Telangana and the TDP in AP, convincingly.

The Telangana government has constituted a commission of inquiry to go into the alleged irregularities in the power purchase agreement. The government on Tuesday made available to the media documents to show that the power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Chhattisgarh had not been ratified and sanctioned by the Telangana State Electricity Regulatory Commission (TSERC).

It was relevant because after the former chief minister was issued a notice by the Commission he had claimed that no investigation could be ordered into a decision of the Electricity Regulatory Commission. He had also questioned the neutrality of former Justice Narasimha Reddy who is heading the probe panel.

On Tuesday, Mr Rao, popularly known as KCR, has been critical of the Justice Narasimha Reddy Commission of Inquiry, even calling for the former chief justice of Patna High Court’s recusal. Labelling the commission unlawful, he has argued that it lacks the authority to investigate PPAs and issues related to power plant construction once the TSERC has approved them.

The officials have, however, clarified that although the agreement with Chhattisgarh was operational by the end of 2017, the power supply was only to the extent of 1,000 MW, which meant Telangana had to purchase additional power from the market, incurring an extra cost of ₹ 2,083 crore between 2017 and 2022.

“The previous government claimed to have paid ₹ 3.9 per unit for power, but the actual cost was ₹ 5.64 per unit, including other expenses. Between 2017 and 2022, Telangana purchased 17,996 million units for ₹ 7,719 crore. The government claimed it had paid ₹ 1,081 crore to Chhattisgarh for power, but the transmission charge for delivering the power was ₹ 1,362 crore. Considering all these costs, the per unit expenditure was ₹ 5.64, which is ₹ 3,110 crore over the agreed price of ₹ 3.9 per unit,” a senior official explained.

In Andhra, the TDP alleged that the hilltop palace in Vishakhapatnam was built in utmost secrecy behind giant barricades. It was revealed to the public only on Sunday, days after the defeat of Jagan Mohan Reddy. The TDP alleges that the opulent property “palace on the hill” overlooking a beach built on Rushikonda Hill was intended as a camp office for Jagan Reddy, who had declared Vizag as Andhra Pradesh’s capital.

The CRZ (Coastal Regulatory Zone) clearance was given by the central government in May 2021 for a tourism project to be developed on Rushikonda Hills by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, but the clearance was used by the then chief minister to develop a private property.

TDP’s national general secretary Nara Lokesh claimed Jagan Reddy decided to use it exclusively as his camp office and built it at a cost of ₹ 500 crore from the state exchequer. The Rushikonda palace is spread over a 9.88-acre sea-facing site. The TDP MLA Ganta Srinivas Rao said the previous government had built it in secrecy, using public funds on luxurious amenities, high-quality furnishing, sparkling chandeliers, bathtubs and the works.  The “palace”, he argued, includes a large conference hall designed for reviews and meetings – not exactly a feature of tourist properties.

The construction costs were kept “highly confidential” and contracts were awarded to supporters of Jagan’s YSRCP, the TDP alleges. The TDP leader said green resorts for tourism on Rushikonda, which generated an annual income of up to ₹ 8 crore, were demolished for the palace. The state government misled the courts, he alleged. Initially, the state government called it a star hotel, then a “CM camp office”, and later a tourism project, he claimed.

The project was launched as a star hotel with a budget of ₹ 91 crore, with a 15-month deadline. However, ₹ 95 crore was spent just on levelling the land, and another ₹ 21 crore to beautify the surroundings, the TDP alleges. To keep the construction activities hidden, 20-foot barricades were erected. According to Mr Rao, when the project was challenged, a High Court expert committee found several violations but construction continued.

No one, not even new Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and his deputy Pawan Kalyan, really knew what was coming up behind the barricades. “Divine intervention prevented Jagan from using the palace,” Mr Rao quipped, referring to Jagan’s election rout.

A leader of Jagan Reddy’s party, however, denied that the former chief minister built a colossal camp office using public money. “The property was meant to host the Prime Minister, President and other dignitaries since Vizag was going to be the capital city. It was not a CM camp office,” claimed the former industry minister G Amarnath.





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